Thursday, December 29, 2011

TOP 10 OF 2011

Foot Falls Forward
There are a few things I love about the week between Christmas and New Years.  The very first is the quiet at work... no one wants or needs me.  I get to clean up a year's worth of clutter and the stacks of "need-to-read-these-articles-for-professional/personal-development" papers that never move from the growing pile. 

And then, the very close second is, my all time personal favorite - Watching/reading Top Lists (of any sort) of 2011, I can not get enough of them.  I can hear myself now...  "I did not know he died!"  "When did that movie come out!"  "They got divorced, who knew!"  Once I stayed up to watch VH1's Top Celebrity Moments and fell asleep at #5...  3 hours invested and I still don't know who made #1.

Writing this Blog entertains me...  So, in the Spirit of the Season, here is my top 10 of 2011:
  1. The Tree Incident  (Landmarks vs Obstacles) changed the course of my year
    • Surely, I will walk my Cross Country Courses just a little bit differently next year
  2. The Convict has competition for my love or as my Bestest Eventing Buddy mentioned - I did find a husband in 2011 (Just a Cheater at Heart...) and it's follow up (Really? Chandler Bing? Oh No!)
    • This hound steals my heart and brings dog walking back into my life.
  3. Church on Sundays has a different meanings for us horsegirls (And Then There Was Light)
    • More "thank-you-gods" come from these quiet moments
  4. Horse folks rock (Karma Karma Karma...)
    • Eventers in particular are kind, helpful and well balanced.  This Good Samaritan takes it a step further.
    • And, let me add, through this blog and Facebook, I've learned that this man is an amazing teacher - as a horseman, as a competitor and as a person who knows a good life.  If your kids are his students, you've won a jackpot of huge proportions.
  5. One day can change your life forever - Be safe and live your life to the fullest! (One Day One Moment...)
    • My sister is a nurse and just reminded me of the importance of NOT texting and driving...  these stories should be told over and over again...  'cause sometimes you forget for just that one moment.
  6. Who does not love Opening Day?  (Oh, Opening Day)
    • This is the day of outrageous possibilities and I get to insert one of my favorite Etta James songs!
  7. Sneaking out of the house on a holiday for that special ride (Time Out)
    • Living life like a child with the abilities of an adult... there is nothing like the Thanksgiving Hunt!
  8. Moving forward after the Tree incident (Hysteria Doth Not Become a Lady)
    • A most cathartic moment even after violating the Four Rules of Eventing
  9. I was a Contender (Phew, Moving Up is Hard to Do) and (Oh To Be Pretty)
    • Moving up to Training Level was a real possibility and the learning potential was amazing. 
    • Need to remember this as I climb up out of my confidence issues.
  10. Hope is always there if you look for it (Doors Forever Opening and Closing)
    • My Bestest Eventing Buddy is still rehabbing her most forever friend while shopping for a "prospect".
    • 2011 was an Eventing bust for us both...  But the door is wide open for 2012!!!  Let the games begin
Going off to start again!
Photo by Jeff Phaneuf
 Ahhh, this may be it for 2011...  Writing is a gift for me and I've enjoyed reading other folk's blogs.  Thanks for being a part of it...

May you find peace, may you find joy...  look for it and it will be there for you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Just talkin'
Photo by
One of my most prevalent beliefs, besides Santa, is that Attitude Defines Destiny (hmm ADD?).  Work has been crazy-busy and since I am yet to be a MegaMillions winner, I embrace work with gusto.  I've been rushing to and fro getting things done.  And I still take care of Sugar every day, walk the dogs, ride 5 times a week...  Gosh, I really can do it all on 5 hours of sleep a day.  Yup...  superwoman... amazing!

Shhhhh...  don't tell anyone, but being superwoman is exhausting.  And, it makes me a cranky girl...  um, really cranky. 

This morning began like all others - up at 5:30am, walk da boys, feed the horses and clean Sug's stalls and then head to work.  Well, my attitude wasn't quite perky and when Chandler knocked the grain over and Jonah rushed in for the kill gobbling up as much as possible, I... well...  shrieked like a shrew and startled the entire barn. 

And despite the nice before-we-get-to-the-barn-walk, Chandler was antsy and if I moved too far away, he whimpered and whined.  And if I was out of his sight, he barked.  Jonah, over compensating for Chandlers antics wanted to be in my space which is also the space for the pitch fork and manure.  It was an awful display of whining and whimpering and that was just me!

The "look" before the
It looked like it was going to be a tough day and this superwoman was unraveling.  So if I really do believe Attitude Defines Destiny, all I need to do to have a good day was to make it a good day.  Smiling seemed to be the logical first step...  every person, no matter what their attitude, would get a smile and a Happy Holiday wish.  That's right, every single person.

Simple, huh?  I don't know what it did for them but for me, the stress left, time became irrelevant and things got done.   Oddly enough, things that needed to happen...  like a favor to benefit a negligent client, happened.  A solution to a big problem worked itself into the day and I got a huge referral from one client to a potential new one.  Gifts... all of them!

Tonight I will find the time to ride, finish my laundry, pack the dogs and I for the trip home and set Sugar up for my peeps to take care of her while I'm away.  I am filled with a calmness that has been missing for days (maybe weeks) as I rush to "finalize everything" before I head home to NJ.  That smile fills my heart and energizes my body (caffeine helps too).

I did not win the MegaMillions jackpot last night. I bought a ticket and I made plans, elaborate plans, to manage it. And yet, my numbers randomly chosen by a machine were not selected randomly by another machine. Maybe, just maybe... I was meant to win the even bigger jackpot this Friday.

It's time...  really time...  to let go...  enjoy... 


Sunday, December 18, 2011


Good Sales Managers are hard to find and when you do, they are worth a fortune.  It is a unique gift to be able to encourage someone struggling, forward and still kick their butts in gear to get them going.  The fine line between picking someone up and keeping them just a little hungry.  When do you hug and when do you kick? The gift is knowing what works and when...
One week before

Honesty continues to rear its ugly head... and, by now, you may be bored with hearing about...  "my mojo is reluctant to come forward,  my inner cowgirl is working at Walmart and my GRRRRRRR is a squeaky tiny guttural sound".  And, this weekend, it is apparent that getting over 2011 is gonna take some time.

So when Sugar came into the weekend Jumping Intensive spooky and quirky, I rustled up the strongest Grrrr I had.  And as we came around the spooky corner to the (maybe 2'6") oxer, I wilted, did not kick on and she spun.  I spanked her for quitting.

And when we went to do it again, she showed reluctance.  This time I kicked.  She jumped huge and anticipating a "correction" she bolted.  I was angry and "corrected" more fiercely and expressed my dissatisfaction with a string of truly ...  um...  salty (inappropriate)...  words.  You know, the kind you hear in gangsta rap songs, action films and well, maybe construction sites...  not nice language for a "lady".

Smiling with Eventing Peeps
It was an awful night of jumping and though we finished on a good note, I was rattled.  And, embarrassed and feeling like a failure... I wanted to cry and cry and cry!  What happened to me?  I was a "Contender" and Sugar and I were a team.  And, I had to jump again tomorrow...  I went to bed working hard to be better, to correct the dark cloud and to find the joy of jumping again..

As we warmed up this morning, Sugar spooked at another oxer placed along the indoor wall.  I sputtered and kicked her on...  Her spooking got worse as she "looked" at the other jumps.   It felt insurmountable.  I felt like I was heading for a repeat performance. And I did not feel capable of dealing...

Then my Eventing Trainer suggested that I pat her and encourage her with a few "Good Girls".   Each pat on her shoulder released tension.  I could feel her soften with the words, "Good Girl Sug, Good Girl".  And, the spooking stopped.  My own little version of a Christmas miracle.  This ride, this morning on this day, Sugar needed to be loved through her issues.  It may not work next week, but it was lovely today.
We will get there!
Used with permission

And after releasing said tears and saying all the words that came with them, my Event Trainer shared her story and the tears shed on her path to return.  Time and the desire to do it will make it better.  And, when I do my first Training, it will mean so much more...  I just hope Sugar won't be too old by then. 

And, today I was loved through my issues.  Good Trainers are hard to find and when you do, they are worth a fortune. 

It's gonna be ok... it's gonna be ok...

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Photo by
Way back when...  GRRR!
My winter prescription is to jump twice a week.  Now, I wasn't told that jumping twice a week should be a complex 3' Jumper course.  I was told to put on the jumping saddle and jump anything, at any height until the thought of jumping becomes ho hum... unexciting.

For some reason...  I don't wanna... 

What happened to attitude defines destiny? What happened to seeing success and then allowing it to happen? If I continue to play it "safe" now, how small will my world be as safe gets bigger?  Or worse, I can remember those days of starting... tomorrow.  Never quite getting going but always preparing to get started.  That string of thoughts is scarier than any tree out there!

Lucky for me, these prescriptions become rules and like the "good girl" I am, I abide by rules set to guide me.  Here it was Thursday and I only popped over tiny jumps on Sunday...  I was running out of days.  So despite the "I don't wanna", there I was, saddling up... jumping tack, bell boots...   wondering what happened to the cocky "I'm-moving-up-to-Training-rider"?  Will she ever return?
Go Sug Go!
Photo by

It was a very good lesson.  Sugar was fresh and forward... like we've been working on.  The theme was to Let Go!  Find her body's freedom and when she releases into my hands channel her energy upward...  More cowbell, more loft, more horse underneath me...  That energy is like a drug... the strength and power fills my body and connects to my brain... Priceless!

And then we jumped...  not big... the goal was perfection.  It was like making something in a crock pot...  looks like a mess of stuff in the beginning but cooking slowly and consistently... something wonderful comes together. 

Oh we had the spooks and the attempts to spook and spin at the corners...  But together, we made something...  not big but really good.  And I left with a smile and hope for more.

This weekend, we head out to my Event Trainer's place for a jumping intensive.  One of my rules for the weekend is to work on my nerves by using the same techniques I use at shows.  I want to leave this sesson feeling like a rock star!

Hey Sugar, you with me on this one?   {Anyone?  Anyone?}

Wish us luck! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Dear (insert Friend or Family Member Name here),

It's that time of the year... yes, this is the annual Christmas Letter where I dazzle you with all of our accomplishments.  It is the medium in which I tell you that my family has reached the pinnacle of success, found a cure for orphan cancers, developed a World Trade Plan that will allow third world countries to develop green technologies and feed millions of formerly starving residents.  Yes, this is the time. 

Let me begin...  first the kids...  my, my, my they have grown this year and their talents are overwhelming...  I wish you could see all that they do...

Our own Convict has been especially busy.  He began the year on a very serious quest to improve his muscling and to.... well bulk up.  As a Labrador Retriever, Jonah was quite intent on finding and consuming all loose bits of food, which included an evening of binge eating puppy food and filling the night air with the most effervescent odor.   And we can all be grateful for his many successful attempts at cleaning out our trailers of anything edible, including a 10 lb box of dog treats.   No one was more diligent than he....

And then there was Chandler Bing, the lil' G Pirate...  I can only humbly say that this youngun' is destined to be a superstar.  Now, he will need time to develop some talents, like getting into the car and hopping up into bed...  but with his amazing gift for snuggling, does it really matter?  Could we not lump him into the "special" bucket that seems to be overflowing with my kids?

Sugar would be sure to tell you that this was a great year!  If only her rider could hang on better, than the ankle would have held up and we both would have galloped past instead of depositing said rider into the tree.  Sugar enjoyed her summer off which allowed her to be so much more exuberant Hunting.
Photo by

And then there was me...  you see, I am like all my animals...  talented in that "special" kind of way...  Kind of really, really good and yet...  um....  let's just call it developing...  like in working on it...  if you know what I mean...

2011 was an odd year and despite some set backs, it was a good one!  You see, I started the year out with a Convict and a Diva and then added a Lil' G Pirate which only added a richness I could not have imagined. 

But, ya know...  it really wasn't year about animals, about fabulous prizes, about awesome eventing, spectacular hunting...  not really.   It was the year of friends and family that helped when I was down, that gave me courage when I was filled with fear and loved me when I needed it most.  And, it was a year of random acts of kindness...  you all know who you are... Good Samaritan, New Barn Girl, Citified Country Girl, Devil Child, Blonde Girl with Perfect T--s, Chief Operating Officer...  this list goes on (It Takes a Village).

The 2012 Christmas Letter is going to be sooooo different...  Prepare to be dazzled by real accomplishment, total joy and an amazing list of stuff...  Yup..  a girl's gotta have goals!!!!  Let the games begin!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Owen, the First
Fairy tales are amazing... on the surface there is a magical setting, a damsel in distress, a knight that saves the day and they all live happily ever after.  Simple story lines with dreams that always come true.  Have you ever, really, really read the actual Grimm's Fairy tales... not the Disney version - the original Cinderella or Rapunzel?  Um, they are wicked scary, grim...  great outcomes from much work and turmoil.

So begins my Fairy tale... 

Dear Santa...  I want a pony!  Dear God... help me find a way to have a horse!  Hi Barn Owner, I will do work in exchange for riding!  Dear Santa...  all I want for Christmas is a horse!  Simple, simple, simple...  all I want for Christmas is a horse.

You see, all you Harry Potter fans will get it when I tell you that horses to my parents were like magic to the Dursleys.  And being one of eight kids in a poor family, it was never really going to happen.  I could beg, plead to all of the Saints (including St Nick) and God himself, it was never going to be.  So, it was my dream, my lifelong goal...  Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a horse...
Fame & Frolic,
Stephie Baer, rider

This week Sugar (aka Fame and Frolic) and I celebrate our 7 year anniversary.  And what a ride its been...  She was not the first.  Owen was the first...  a big, young, blood bay Irish Sport Horse.   I bought him in February 2004 and had to euthanize him that August.  It was a short amazing love story.  He showed me what it was I really loved and I was strong enough to let him go with dignity and grace.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done and for a long time, I thought the tears would never stop.

When I walked into Sugar's barn 7 years ago...  it was love at first sight.  (OK, the half blue eye was disturbing until my trainer kicked me and told me to get over it!)  I sat in the saddle and I knew she was mine... "She fits perfectly!"  And I think Sug chose me too.  She was an absolute angel in our test rides.

I'll never forget the night she came to the barn.  It was late on December 10th - cold and snowing - There she stood at the top of the ramp, her white coat brilliant in the lamp light.  She shivered... was it the chill, fear of the steep decline?  Then, with soft encouragement she walked down the ramp and into the barn.  I stood with her, stroking her neck as she calmed down and leaned into my touch.  I was in love...  my dream come true...

Our very first show 7/2005
Sometimes when I look at her record and then at our record, those little niggling insecurities roll in... maybe, if she had a better rider, a young rider... maybe she would be the superstar she was bred to be. Sug is quite a horse.  Our fairy tale has had it's moments of a true Grimm's fable - humiliating falls, cancer, my breaks, her break, trailering terrors, dressage warmup antics, winter heehaws, spring rideability issues and so many joys - hunting, brilliant cross country runs, parades, beach rides.   (Hmmm, the only thing missing is the knight.)

You know, I work hard and I do love a good ribbon...  I will not deny that!  My dreams are fulfilled every moment I take and thank God for this gift called Sugar. 

And, yeah...  we are a married couple and yes, sometimes I want her to take out the trash now and she wants to watch TV...  our marital issues are small and with good counselors, we always work it out and get better and better.

Happy Anniversary Sugar!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.
-- August Wilson, American Writer
"It was a dark and stormy night..."

Demons... Dementor-like Demons... sucking the energy, ignoring your attempts to, at least, hold them at bay...  Those are thoughts that creep into your mind...  the ones that you push away and move forward only to find that their whispering is taking on new persistency... not necessarily louder but the tone stronger and more steady.  

There are those of you who Just Do It! You approach the jumping phases with childlike energy... excitement over the coming thrills, fearless and cocky... you can not WAIT until dressage is over so you can get to the fun stuff. Maybe you approach dressage the same way or maybe the Dementors swirl just before you come down centerline.

It's been a long year of ups and downs...  some of the downs ...  um, HURT and some were just darn embarrassing.  I entered 2011 with oodles of GRRRR and Mojo and was schooling and planning my move up to Training.  What I lost mostly with some of those downs... was my attitude, my "Git-ur-done"! 
Heading out wit da Home Girls!
Looking Grrr-Like!

Now, to be honest those of you know me, particularly those friends I ask to help out/groom/babysit/kick-my whiny-butt out at Horse Trials know that I was like this before the "Season that Never Really Happened".  The only difference now, is that there is an "I in quit" even though there is alot of energy going forward,

"Not ready!" "You'll be dumped in an embarrassing lump!" "You've lost your mojo!" "You can't handle her!" "What if she spooks and spins?" "What if I can't get her to jump?" "You can't afford to get hurt again!" "What if Eventing Trainer thinks you're a has-been before ever getting started?" "You're fat, ugly and nobody will ever love you! (oops, old demon banished in 1992)"

These were the Demons I brought to my Jumping Intensive this weekend.  Hunting is kind of easy...  you gallop, jumps come up and you really don't have alot of choice...  stay in the middle of her, active leg and Sug jumps through my body...  a total rush of energy.  I don't think - I do and for the most part it is fabulous.  This weekend, I had to earn the right to make it happen... to have the same feeling in the most unnatural of settings - an indoor.

This is real Grrrr... 2012 Preview
Used with permission
My very first step was to admit that I was anxious and that although I know we can do bigger and more complex courses, the most important thing was for me to leave hungry for more.  It was humbling and slightly embarrassing to be in a place where the Demons owned my head. 

And do you know what?  Maybe my patronus is humility because Sugar and I were good together.  Our turns were more balanced,  her canter had more impulsion, my timing got better and when I hiked my stirrups up back to Eventing length, my leg more secure and effective.  It was awesome!  And, after lesson two...  I believe we were both smiling!

It'll come back!  I may never be cocky and fearless but maybe, just maybe, I will be one of those eventers that can't wait to get dressage over so they can jump!  (Trust me, I LOVE the jumping phases but...  um... after I enter the ring or leave the starting box - never before.)

Friday, November 25, 2011


When I was a kid, a horse crazy kid in a suburban non-horsey family, all I wanted to do on a holiday was to sneak out of the crowded house and ride.   Just me and a pony outside in the cold air cantering along a cornfield... alone, while families gathered warm and cozy in houses filled with the aroma of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  I  fantasized that I was a pioneer... over the fields we go...  laughing all the way (oops, that's another holiday).

So, yesterday was the Thanksgiving Hunt.  It was 28 degrees when I left my house and not a car on the road.  If you listened really carefully, you could hear the roasting pans sliding into hot ovens.  But I wasn't intent on the day's food.  I was going riding.  That pioneer kid shaking in anticipation...

Photo by ONBH Member, Rick Arsenault
There is something fantastic when you set out early in the morning to the Meet knowing that all over the US,  Hunts were gathering, decked out in their finest and eager to be a part of this amazing tradition.  So I wasn't alone but instead, a part of a community of eager holiday foxhunters living their own fantasy interpretation.   And it was a good one!

Generally, the field heads off at a good clip, each horse knowing which buttocks to follow.  There is order and flow.  It might have been the cold air or it might have been holiday happiness or perhaps the stirrup cup before we left...  all of us were on steeds breathing fire.  They wanted to run after our pack of tonguing hounds.  They would not be denied their gallop.

You can tell the real Hunt Horses from the rest.  They stand at the checks, ears rigid following the sound of the happy hounds.  Their stillness hides their readiness to dash off the moment the hounds are cast...  As I looked around,I noticed most of these intent ponies were mares... hmm a job?  A task?  You can hear the whispering... are you ready?  I've got it!  There they go!  Tally ho!

And, my little pony? Somehow a week's worth of Lyme treatment and a fabulous dressage lesson the night before gave her wings and attitude. She jumped everything as if she was running Rolex... careful, clean and really, really big!
Photo by Rick Arsenault

Sug was wearing studs to counter the slippery frost.  They gave her the ground... The first two pieces were brilliant...  she wanted more and after the last 4' leap over a Novice/BN log pile into a stunning pirouette and thus avoiding the member in the scarlet coat..  I banned her to the very last spot in the Hilltoppers where she had to walk, trot and canter like a normal horse... not her fantasy - a fiery breathing timber horse.

Photo by Donna Rassulo
Like a toddler sent to bed...  first we have anger (foot stomping, prancing and bouncing), then we have acceptance (true gaits) and finally relaxation (breathing).  I think she was kind of grateful that someone did for her what she could not do for herself. ( Hmmm, maybe I am a good parent.)

The Hunt ended on a beautiful estate in Concord with a Stirrup Cup.  Riders on one side of the fence and 50 or so guests on the other...  being served sherry, hot broth and grilled sausages on silver platters by wait staff in tuxedos.

The sun was shining.  The air warmed by its rays...  was it the broth?  the sherry?  Or was it the comradely of a group of pioneers out for a holiday ride?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Yup...  Thankful!
Earlier this week I attended a funeral for a man and a father who died way too young.   His best friend spoke... beautifully, if not eloquently, about this life which was that of a friend.  His words were channeled from a heart filled with love and chiseled with the pain of loss.  I could not forget them.

"God does not take away our loved ones.  He does not cause pain, disease or loss.  Only heaven is perfect.   Life on earth is to be lived, to find love and to be loved.  We are a collection of our memories...  the ones we choose to make..."

It's Thanksgiving and probably my most favorite holiday (outside of the singing of Christmas Carols).  It isn't about the food, the parades or the football.  For me, it really is about a day "dedicated" to being thankful and wrapped in family and traditions.  One holiday swept of political correctness and open to all religions and creeds.  It makes me smile.

I'll begin my Thanksgiving holiday with Sugar and I chasing the brown buttocks of a horse that is chasing the buttocks of another horse, chasing the elusive foxhound pack who is chasing after anise scent freshly dropped to make the chase real.  We will, at some point, raise a toast to our landowners, the "foxes", the hounds ...  thanking the world for our good fortune to participate.

The day will end, after the traditional meal with my Bestie Forevah and her family of boys.  I will be grateful for all that I have.  This I know to be true because it's with me now.

My Sistah Friend has a tradition in her family.  She asks each dinner guest to say one thing that they are thankful for...  I will miss that moment greatly but, my answer will be...  That I am living in a world that is good, filled with good things and that I am lucky to be alive surrounded by wealth that can not be banked.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Be good to yourself, your family and make your memories count!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Not Christmas...  the Area 1
Annual Meeting
It's that time of the year again... no, not just the "Holidays" but the time of year where every organization wants YOU to attend their Annual Meeting.  And, there are all sorts of ways they might entice you...  raffles, door prizes ...  maybe even quirky entertainment.  Every volunteer organization needs members to be active and enthused in order to thrive...  so if quirky gets you there...  quirky it is!  ;)

YOUR local Eventing Association - USEA Area 1 - is just like all the others...  but BETTER!   So here it comes....  That's right!


When:           Sunday, January 15, 2012  -  Noon - 4pm (Organizers meet from 10am-Noon)
Where:          Clarion Hotel and Conference Center - 1080 Riverdale Street, West Springfield, MA 01089  413-781-8750
How much:    $20 if you register before 12/31/11 and $25 at the door.

Now, I can't promise quirky and, truthfully, I think Eventers need more substance than gimics and tricks to entice.  We're more than that... so..  The Agenda is chock full of the things that make Area 1 work, let's see..

Don't be caught snoozin'...  it can
be a blast!
Well first off we have a buffet lunch (food works for most of us) and the Area 1 Awards Presentation (who does not like to collect ribbons?).  Then we get news and headlines from the various Committees (Area Chair, Adult Riders, Young Riders, etc) helping make 2012 a smashing success!  Of course, let's not forget our esteemed Guest Speaker, Peter Gray.

From his website (, Peter Gray is a noted trainer, rider and popular clinician in Eventing, Dressage and Equitation world-wide. As a competitor Peter has competed at most international events in Europe and North America including three Olympic Games, World Championships and is a Pan Am individual bronze medalist. Besides his notoriety in the event world, Peter also competes on the winter circuit in hunter and jumpers and is long listed with the Canadian National Dressage team for 2010.  His all-round experience as a competitor has seated him on many committees including the F.E.I. 3 day Event Committee, EC High Performance, Safety, Selection, Coaching committees, USEA Professional Rider Council and ICP, and is co-founder of Equiventures - organizers of horse trials at the Florida Horse Park. Peter is the current Young Rider 3 Day Event coach for Ontario.

So we have food, prizes and substance...  what more could you want at the USEA Area 1 Annual Meeting?  (Drink is, of course, subject to the limitations of our diverse environment - non-alcoholic, of course.)...  Shopping...  yes!  And folks...  that means one absolutely fabulous Silent Auction! 

Fame & Frolic winning 2009 Groton House Farm's
Preliminary Training Division, Stephie Baer, rider
(last time Sugar completed GHF despite 2 winning
entries from the Silent Auction)
We're competitors, right?  And we compete in a dangerous sport, right?  Some may say it's a bit extreme...  Picture yourself at a Silent Auction with 100 of your fellow eventers...  and you're swirling around the table of items...  wanting that Entry to Groton House Farm or maybe, its a GMHA event or even two tickets to the Bruins.  You want it and so does 6 others stalking the table...   You can taste victory and waiting until 3 to claim it heightens the thrill...   YES!  The Silent Auction rocks... 

Although, I've been warned by many of my friends and family that I can not bid on the Groton House Entry, I still may put up some stiff competition.  And for those of you who read my blog...  you know why...  but, I just can't help but to think that three's a charm!

Come on... register!  Make a commitment to get involved...  Eventing is a great place to meet fabulous horse folk.  And, we can't event without the USEA and our own Area 1!  Or, just do it for the fabulous prizes and the esteemed Peter Gray...  Like the famous tag line...  JUST DO IT!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Once upon a time, long, long ago...  there was this horse who acted like a total cow in the dressage ring, who {{{gasp}}} dropped a rail in stadium and had a run-of-the-mill cross country excursion.  Oh, she was a pretty thing but...  well, she was a bit of a diva. 

Used with permission (
Lyme, they chanted...  she has Lyme!  It must be Lyme!  Surely you will have her tested for Lyme!  A beautiful talented horse like that...  must be Lyme!

So her trusty servant, shook her head in disbelief and wondered, do these people even know her?  Did they not know that this talented beauty was, in fact, a mare?  Could it be just an off day?  Why must it be Lyme? 

Then, an idea came to the lowly servant...  Test the Princess/Diva.  If it is not Lyme, maybe her fans would understand that this pretty little thing, is, in fact...  Mariah Carey in disguise.  And if is Lyme...  than the world would be brighter because the diagnosis and treatment would fix all that was challenging and I would be left with a gentle, agreeable...  superstar!

The test, way back in 2007, was negative.  And, negative again in 2009.  Sugar was...  yes, let me say it out loud...  kind of MAREISH!  The negative test was proof that I had to work on us, on myself to improve and not rely on any other excuse.  It was comforting...  well, kind of.

Well, today's test came back positive...  six times what is considered normal using the most reliable testing available.  So, her slight discomfort, slight-not-quite-right, that tightness in her back and hips, that slight reluctance to get going... that dissatisfaction with the grooming ritual and spa services really did spell LYME!

Used with permission
There was no grand pronouncement...  just a hint and a prompt from our trainer...  just not quite right.  Maybe, just maybe, the treatment will make us superstahs...  a girl's gotta have a dream, huh?

Strangely enough, after picking off more ticks (off da boys, Sug and me) than one can imagine, in this season called Autumn,  I am tired, cranky, with body aches and tightness...  I called my vet...  oops doctor...  maybe it's Lyme.  (Most likely I need to go to bed earlier, stretch more often and work on my attitude.)

Monday, November 7, 2011


Yup... dat's her... I luf her!
Shhhhhh...  today's my sister's birthday!  And, I'm not sure she's gonna love this but, it is my blog and I'll write it if I want too...   Happy Birthday My Absolute Favorite Sistah!  This one is for you and all the Sistah Friends out there!

This could be one of those mushy Facebook posts where I beg you to copy it on your profile for one hour if you have a sister that you love.  It could be but ... um, I hate those things and will not do it even if you beg me.  Sorry... 

Or I could tell you of all the lovely sweet things my sister and I did as kids dressed in pink skirts with bright polka dots and black patent leather shoes.  And let's not forget those sun shiny days holding hands and skipping through rose petals on our way to a glistening pond.  But I'd be lying. 

The real story could be about the battle for identity...  The adorable red head with big blue eyes...  cute as a button and her big older sister... dark where she was light, awkward where she was gifted, plain where she was beautiful.  And me consumed with all things equine... every inch of our bedroom covered in horses.   My beloved Sistah Friend, in an effort to have a place in our room,  once stood before me, her blue eyes daring me to come closer as she clutched my favorite horse statue...  And when I accepted that dare, she calmly and defiantly smashed it to the ground.
Beauty is as beauty does...

Poor me...  Hmmmm, you know, I don't think I was so... um...  innocent.  If you ever meet, ask her about the PeeWee Herman situation.  I'm sure, after that story, you will really appreciate how deeply our bond has grown.

Her kids think we're a bit bizarre... as we giggle for the umpteenth time through Elf. And when she jumps up out of her seat to declare, "I KNOW HIM!".  I laugh like a hyena every time. And I mean, every time!

She can't pack a college apartment to save her life, yet, she forgives me for the level of intensity in which I express my impatience. Her capacity to love, to engage, to care is a gift to all that know her... her patients, her friends and her family. You see, the capacity to give love expands infinitely your ability to receive love... and for her, the glass is not just half-full, it's overflowing.

I believe that God smiled down on me that day she was born.  As the first girl in a house full of boys (4 before and two after me) she was to be my bestest Sistah Friend.  It ultimately never really mattered how awful we could be to each other, we were a united front when it came to the Boys.  And although it took 20 some odd years to get there, those moments of angry youth can never ever replace the joy of having someone so wonderful in your life today.

She is a Fall and I am a Winter
A Halloween snowstorm... priceless!
Maya Angelou once said:

I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.

That IS a quote I could post on my profile page.  Sistah Friends can be found everywhere.  You breathe life into them and their breath keeps you alive too!  Secrets, adventures, love, laughter and yes, even tears bring us together. 

Biology...  ahhh...  don't hold your Sistah Friends to this.  Open up your heart and embrace your Sistah Friends... all of them!  They help us LIVE a good life!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


So there is this saying that I love to quote and it goes like this:  "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again AND expecting different results!"  Folks, I must confess...  I am insane! 

Area 1 just released the 2012 Eventing Schedule and I'm at it again.  I am sitting here on my lunch hour, not eating my healthy-prepared-especially-for-me lunch and not returning the call from a colleague answering my question on a obscure "grandfathered" clause in a client's insurance contract.  No, I'm planning my 2012 Eventing Season. 

Let the Cowgirl Ride!
Used with permission

Really?  Hmmm...  let's review our 2010 season...  Oh, that's right, Sugar fractured her splint bone and we spent our summer complaining about having to wrap her legs and honoring the anxiety I have with that very necessary procedure.  Oh...  ok, that wasn't a good season. 

How about 2011?  Ahhh...  that's right, my Bestest Eventing Buddy's horse had an injury that wiped out her season and me?  Well, we're all just a bit tired of hearing about the "Tree Issue".  So, 2011 didn't really happen.

Yet, here I am ...  giddy with excitement and filled with all the world's possibilities...  Pumped full of coffee and a highlighter in one hand and a calendar clutched in another...  I dream.

Really folks, let me warn you now...  2012 is going to be amazing!  Everything that can happen, has happened in 2011.  The Eventing gods are smiling ...  and, I'm going to take that and run!

Eventing Nation's tag line is "Red on Right, White on Left, Insanity in the Middle"!

I love Foxhunting (all XC and no dressage) but by the level of my Insanity, I truly belong in the world of Eventing.  Now back to that schedule!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So I never became a parent.  Now, if you're my mom reading this, you'd be mumbling words like "spinster" or phrases like "too busy" or "too stuck in your own ways".  Really, it wasn't that I planned on being childless, it's just the way life happened.

Sugar sweet and contented
I do wonder sometimes... what kind of parent would I be?  Am I the cheerful, fun type mom who is all crafty and loves to bake sweet wholesome snacks?  Could I be the one that all the neighbor's kids secretly wish they had as their mother?  Hmmm...  I wonder.

These past few days have been filled with more than a few...  just lil' bits of...  um...  mistakes.  Not big ones but just more than a body, well Sugar's body, should endure.  As her mother, well...  I'll let you be the judge.  And, if you think you need to rescue her from my incompetence...  sigh...  I know the universe was correct.

Have you ever unloaded your self-loading horse from a trailer and realized that they were still tied?  Has the breakaway snapped and scared both of you?  Then after hastily checking to see that there is no damage to horse and trailer, you look around to see who witnessed your brain fart and then, breathe a sigh of relief knowing your secret is safe.  I'm sure if it hasn't happened to you...  you know someone with a trailer who it has.

Poor Sug!  She's lived a full week of such minor but potentially bad situations and I believe, once the power is back on in the barn, has lived so I can tell about it. 

It starts with the missing half-halt at the hunt on Saturday which caused a wipe-out...  scary but with both of us safe and sound.  Then we have the Back on Track sheet which caused her to overheat (should have used my Draper Equine) in the trailer.  And, let's not forget a speeding truck on a narrow road overshooting a turn and pushing us into a tree with the trailer (destroying a tire and rim).  Oh, poor Sugar...  when returning to the barn, I put a light stable sheet with the belief that I would be returning that night.  The Halloween storm kept me away and the temps dropped below 30 degrees.
Yes, it's Halloween 2011
iPhone photo

 So the storm knocked out power to the barn and I did barn chores by flashlight...  the shadows danced across the aisle way....  TERRIFYING my ever vigilant mare.  It took way too much time to figure this out... causing her to shake in fear until I soothed her soul.  Poor thing!

And if I am Sug's "mom", did I mention that I am a working single mother?  And do you know what's really hard?  The freak snowstorm killed the lights in the barn for the last three days.  Feeding begins at 6:30 am, I use my car headlights and a now-stable-non-shadow-throwing battery powered lamp to clean her stall.  When I return at night, the barn is pitch black, things that are not horse related are moving about.   I can't even make sure she's ok.

What if your week was filled with these little tidbits? Would your kids survive? Will they be telling their therapists at 40 of their deep childhood neglect?  Or would you be surrounded by your grandkids laughing lightly at the things that we can not control?

Hmmmmm.... maybe it's Lyme...

Saturday, October 29, 2011


As I sit here, cozy warm, two dogs snoring away, I'm not pondering the laundry that needs to be done.  No, not that, nor the dirty dishes sitting in the sink.  I'm not moaning about the Nor'easter bringing a foot of snow and wrecking havoc with Halloween plans.  No...  I'm here...  one hand holding a mug full of chai tea and the other busily writing... 
Halloween snow!

It's a good night.  There is no better feeling than being home after stealing a day...  You see, we could've canceled the hunt.  It was too cold and the weatherfolk warned us of how bad it was going to be and so many other things were being canceled, postponed....  why not us?

Magical!  That's what this was for me!  Oh, I'm not going to tell you that I now have to search for a loophole in Hunt Courtesies...  you see, I don't think a person should have to buy a bottle of wine IF that person's unscheduled dismount was due to the fall of the horse after a jump on a slippery 90 degree turn...  That is my work before the Master's Dinner... Just sayin'!

The world before a snowstorm is a cold quiet place.  The density of the air wraps around our bodies and our horses breath clouds before us.  The grass yellowed and peppered with snow... The woods were more tree than leaf.   The leaves remaining color the woods like stars in a moonless sky... beautiful and brilliant.

Framingham MA, like everywhere, is overgrown with housing, big malls, Route 9 and getting even more so each year. Who would have thought that we could be out running with the hounds chasing the ever elusive anise scent for over 2 hours. The territory includes fields, woods, multiple stream crossings and a menagerie of animals - dairy cows, donkeys, chickens galore. For one moment, I bow my head and honor the conservationists, the farmers and all the folks who have worked hard to keep this area open. Thank you all!

Fwiends...  gotta luf dem!
10/15/11 Hunt - more leaves.
Sugar stood at the first cast, shaking with anticipation waiting for the cue to run.   The Huntsman and the Whips came parading down the path from the Hound Truck.  The hounds besides them, whining and yipping, begging to be sent on the way.  The Field parted and, then...  it began.  The whining and yipping continued as the pack fanned through the field...  Then, a sharp cry and we were off like a shot!

It was a good day to hunt.  The hounds thoroughly enjoyed the work weaving in an out of the woods calling for back up.  It was fantastic to watch the Whips work bringing the excited pack off the hill and back to the check!  I wanted to lead a cheer...  but I have been told that, well, the Wave is frowned upon at the Check...  even if well-deserved.

Animals bring out the best in us.  We brave the elements...  no matter what.  We go out when others stay in.  For that, we get these gifts...  the jewels of life.  Outside in a quiet world with 25 of my "closest and dearest" hunting peeps.  Hmmm, now to find that loophole!

Monday, October 24, 2011


So, as confessionals really go...  I suck at math.  Oh, I am a bit handy when it comes to a calculator but without that powerful little tool...  {{{SIGH}}}. 

"If you look really carefully,
you can see a dog"

What I DO have is a knack for calculations when it involves adding 9 minutes to time for each smack of the snooze button.  That I can do AND I can even manage in a stage of semi-sleep to calculate two different intervals on two different alarms assuring that I make it somewhere on time.  It's a gift...  Yup, I won't be solving the economic issues of our day...  but I will know what time it is if I hit the snooze three times.
You would think that I am not a morning person...  or that I dread getting up and out of bed.  I say to you...  No way...  If I am in bed at 7am, I have officially slept in!  
A tired dog is a good dog!

Mornings... ahhh...  When folks are catching those last few moments of shut-eye, I'm out, with the boys in tow...  feeding the horses and enjoying the quiet before the rush.  It brings me peace.  It brings me joy. 

This morning was one of the good ones.  We had a bit of a cold snap in New England and I left the house in a fleece sweatshirt and a windbreaker... Freezing... who knew it was 34 degrees?  The boys and I both needed a good walk - done as the sunlight came over the hill.  Creatures were rustling in the woods...  I could hear them ...  maybe a racoon returning from a quick trashcan run or a squirrel for the Convict to hunt.  The Lil' G-Pirate was happy to sniff along our frosty path...  this, of course, is his first Fall.

It's all worth it!
The barn was warm and it felt soothing after the chill of our walk.  There are whinnies for attention and food.  I am still Staff in the eyes of the barn inhabitants... the King bangs if I am too slow, the Prince shakes his head in mild irritation if his hay is not at his feet to chase his breakfast down, the Donkey has a whole routine to show his displeasure at what he feels is my clumsy attempts to feed him first. And, the Princess... well, she can be most patient as the last horse fed... she is unwilling to let the help know that she is hungry. You see, a Princess doth not deem herself the equal to her stablemates.

A clean stall...  done just so...  tired hounds... I'm off to work...  paying for these early morning pleasures.  What a perfect way to start a day... 

Life is, indeed, good!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Sometimes in a effort to keep going, to get things done, to achieve goals and to make it all adventurous and productive...  you miss the beauty of keeping it simple.  That moment of pleasure is gone as you move on to the next "best" thing!
Da Boys...  napping!

Today was a tired day coming from a long, busy and exhausting week.  We had a spectacular Hunt yesterday - very physical and fun.  Barn chores and dog walking are a given.  Sug needed a ride to limber up from the day before.  I was tired and sore...  "A nap, a nap...  TAKE A NAP!"   I did not want to saddle up and work...  I just wanted a NAP!

You see, had I filled my day with all things "necessary", I would have missed the simple gift of a trail ride with the New Barn Girl, the Donkey (Declan) and our "mixed" pack o' hounds.  I would have missed it for a myriad of reasons...  Dishes needed to be done.  Sugar could have a day off.  I'm tired and sore.  The dogs need walking.  I have to do laundry/food shop/insert house elf task here.  All of the chores seemed critical.

It is a simple pleasure when two horse girls ride out shortly before a setting sun with hounds bounding about.  The woods were dark, the trails along the pond shiny with shimmering sun and our pack of three running about in the tall grass.  Actually, Jonah is hunting chipmunks.  Carli is hunting Jonah.  And, Chandler...  well, he's our stirrup hound...  he stayed right at our tail while his "team" bandied about.

Exhausted and Napping
My smile grew as Sugar relaxed her back and swung her hips as she gained her Cross Country walk...  maybe the urge for home and her dinner helped just a bit...  The romantic in me wants to believe that she enjoyed the Autumn air and being out with her stablemate.   Maybe it was more about me, slowing down and enjoying the moment as if it were all it needed to be.

Our pooches...  what a treat!  Two 9 month old hound teenagers and our anchor Lab sometimes leading the way, sometime following...  mostly chasing something of utmost importance...  the chipmunk's squeak, Declan's tail, a blowing leaf...  intense and immediate joy!  Another gift.

At one point, we lost our hunters...  I know Jonah, he was probably dunking his body in the stream.   Turning to look back at the New Barn Girl and whistling for the wanderers, I thought... this moment doesn't get better than this.

Winter Wee Folk
NBG had a red sweatshirt, riding a chestnut pony...  the sun behind her illuminated the field below us...  Carli bounding above the grass, her tail flagging her happiness as she ran to her person...  The Convict in his Lab way, charged happily behind her... Sheer pleasure...  all of us ...  in that simple moment.

It was a gift!  I'm glad I was present to receive it.  I'm glad, that for just a moment, I slowed down and enjoyed it.


Me "sucking" up to the Huntsman
on a "colorful" day
Photo used with permission

I believe that your attitude sets your destiny...  Believe it and it comes true.  Think about all the folks you know who tell you how hard life is, how so many things happen to them, how everything sucks...  It's true...  not because of reality, its because that's their view, their take on life.  They miss the hundreds of gifts - big and small, that happen often.  So when I hear the wives tale that bad things happen in threes, I groan and then laugh...  HA!

Um... uh...  so...  I proved, yet again, in front of 30 or more of my "closest" hunting buddies, at a Joint Hunt, that Bumbles do, in fact, bounce.  And, that would make it #3 for this year (Groton House Farm - the big one, during a jumping lesson and now, hunting).  I could go on...

It was a spectacular day - a New England Fall at its absolutely best - chilled air, just warmed by the brilliant sun,  reds, oranges and yellows deepening and  a crisp wind helping our frisky horses be that much more exuberant.   And it was a Joint Meet...  more folks to enjoy the hidden jewels in and about Concord MA.  It was gonna be a good day!  

The first piece was fantastic...  fast, hounds screaming as they hit the scent and chased the elusive anise drippings.  The jumps came quickly and mostly downhill.  I was filled with the power of Sugar's jump and drunk with her speed.  BRING IT ON!  We were on fire!!!

Yet, I started this hunt with just a little worry.  It wasn't much...  and I brushed it away.  And, it jiggled around in my brain... hmm, what if I fall today?  Again, I brushed it off.  If I believe it will happen, it will.

The second piece was a nice galloping piece...  the uncut hay field was thick.  (If you want your dressage horse to have more jump in her canter, gallop across an uncut hay field after three days of rain.)  I felt tight, secure and still drunk on all things Sugar.  
Photo by D Rassulo

The big brush jump was sticky but the landing was light and forward... on to the coop.  The field was a little stuck, so I half-halted about 6 strides out...  then as Sug was about to jump...  she had a slight hesitation.  I "helped" her by leaning forward just so...  she spun out and I left a sandy imprint at the front of the jump...  The Bumble bounced up...  her body fine, her ego in disarray.

So, a highly regarded Eventing trainer (former Bruce Davidson groom/rider) laughed and gave me the next set of "threes".  "You had a great canter going in and you both looked great...  Bruce had this to say:
  • First mistake - a good horse will jump (The half-halt in a Pelham caused her to curl, I needed to bring her head up.)
  • Second mistake - a good horse should jump (Lost impulsion and did not help her with my leg.)
  • Third mistake - you're going to eat dirt (I leaned instead of staying in the middle of her.)
Humble pie served warm can be delicious.  I sobered up quickly and learned well.  Sugar is an amazing horse...  no matter what the discipline.  She is not a machine and needs a partner.  We look good, we jump well, we are a pretty decent team...  I fall, I get up and I go on.  I really wish it wasn't in front of most of the Field at a Joint Meet.   

Ok, I would love it just a little bit if Sugar would look at bit concerned when I fall and maybe hover around a bit.  That would be nice.  Instead, she runs off and I'm sure if she could talk, she would be screaming...  "Her fault, not mine... yup, it was her..."  God I love that MARE!

Oh, and another set of threes...  Blue Ribbon at our Hunter Pace, Blue Ribbon at the Myopia Novice Horse Trials...   ooooo, can't wait for that third Blue Ribbon...  Rut ro!
Waiting for the Cast (Photo by D Russillo)